St. Luke’s Hospital/Columbus officer agreement nears completion

Published 9:48 pm Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Columbus and St. Luke’s Hospital are nearing completion of an agreement for the hospital to pay for and provide an armed officer for night security.

Columbus Town Council met Thursday, July 18 and reviewed the latest draft of the agreement.
The town will hire two full-time officers to cover the seven weekly 12-hour shifts.

Columbus Town Manager Jonathan Kanipe said the contract would begin this fiscal year and end in fiscal year 2015. Kanipe said he and St. Luke’s CEO Ken Shull have been working out issues such as the hospital requesting to give two months notice if they wish to stop the program. The town instead asked for six months for hiring purposes. Kanipe said they have also agreed that it would be acceptable for the town to use the officer, when needed, to assist at another location within Columbus.

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Columbus attorney Bailey Nager said the hospital would be required to train the officers to hospital standards.

Kanipe said he hopes to have the contract approved in August but they are still a minimum of two months away from getting the officers hired and in the position.

Councilman Ricky McCallister asked if the town would renew the contract after the two years is complete and if the town would then negotiate the amount covering the salary of the officer and other expenses. Kanipe said the town would negotiate the amount of the contract depending on cost of living increases and uniforms and equipment needed.

St. Luke’s Hospital is within Columbus town limits and currently has unarmed security guards. The hospital has been working with the town to provide an armed officer to work nights. The agreement includes that the town provides the service at no cost to town taxpayers.

The security services portion of the draft agreement states the town shall furnish one uniformed, armed Town of Columbus police officer and one town police car to the hospital, nightly from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. to provide security services for the protection of hospital employees, visitors, patients and the property.

“Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, individual police officers shall work 12-hour shifts at hospital and shall conduct such patrols, inspections, security responses, security escorts, patient monitoring and other police activities as reasonably requested by hospital or as reasonably required to fulfill the purposes of this agreement,” states the draft agreement.

The services fee from the hospital to the town will be prorated and paid monthly on the first day of each month with the fee for the first year being $100,894.87 (if the agreement had began July 1) paid in installments of $8,047.91 per month to cover the town’s costs for  salaries, benefits, uniforms and equipment, including firearms, costs of the police car to be present with the officer at the hospital, town administrative and overhead costs pertaining to the officers, town staff supervision of the officers, training and insurance for the officers and police car, according to the draft agreement.

The second year service fee is currently drafted at $92,894.87, which is less than the first year because of the up-front costs of uniforms and equipment.

Kanipe said once both the town and hospital approve the agreement, the town will begin taking applications.

“Realistically, there is at least a two-month window between signing off on this agreement and having the first police officer working at the hospital. Staff will have to recruit and interview applicants, along with hospital personnel, and then have the person trained appropriately on both town and hospital standards,” said Kanipe.